Failte gu Fuadach nan Gaidhealt na h-Alba

Failte gu Fuadach nan Gaidhealt na h-Alba.
The Highland Clearances were a devestating part of the history of Scotland. For many it changed not only their way of life but also shaped the rural future of Scotland. Many villagers suffered at the hands of their landlords and tackmen and fought a desperate struggle to find a new life. Others managed to propser in a new life that never saw them return to Scotland again. Here is a resource that supports the documentation and historical value of this important area of Scottish history. You can follow in the footsteps of these villagers and find detailed descriptions and locations of the remains of some of the villages and townships through site descriptions, photographs and suggestions for further reading and links to follow.




Monday, 2 July 2012

Key figures in the Clearances~ James Loch

James Loch. 1780 -1855
I want to try and bring some of the key figures associated with the Clearances to the front here on the blog and I will start this series with James Loch. 

James Loch (7 May,1780–28 June,1855) was a Scottish economist, advocate, barrister, estate commissioner and later a member of parliament. 


Loch was born near Edinburgh and when his father died, in 1788, he went to live with his uncle, the prominent lawyer and politician William Adam KC (1751–1839) on the Blair Adam estate near to Kelty in Kinross-shire. 

The estate was developed by his Grandfather, also called William Adam, who, from around 1731 after purchasing the estate known as Blair Crambeth, renamed the estate Blair Adam, and set about expanding and improving it, planting trees, enclosing land, and setting up coal mines. He also established the local village of Maryburgh, naming it after his wife, to provide housing for the miners. Upon his death the estate passed to his son and later to his son, William.

Hence the legacy of estate management, design and structure would have been prominent within the day to day life of the young James and although James returned to Edinburgh to study law and go on to develop an interest in politics, he opted instead to persue a career in estate management. 

Leaving his connection with Sutherland to one side for a moment, in his role as Chief Agent to the first and second Dukes of Sutherland, James Loch was instrumental in the development of both canal and railway networks in Britain. Appointed director of the Grand Junction Railway and also of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, Loch held a number of public offices and was one of the founding figures of London University. He also combined this work, and his work on the Sutherland estates, with parliamentary duties as an MP between 1827 and 1852, representing the burghs of Wick, Tain and St. Germans in Cornwall.


But it is for the work in Sutherland that he, for much of his life, carried out to effect across the land. Not really the architect,  more the engineer of design and apologist for the Duchess, who implemented the changes, often aggressively and notoriously 'so as to mould and control the lives of the ignorant and credulous people' that at one time, the young among the families throughout the estate of in Sunderland, had to go to Loch's agents for permission to marry' (Preeble, J.) According to Loch's own writings, "In a few years the character of the whole of this population will be completely changed... The children of those who are removed from the hills will lose all recollection of the habits and customs of their fathers".


As famed for his work on the estate for his masters the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, it is also his writings, in the form of the publication in 1820 of the work entitled 'An account of the improvements on the estates of the Marquess of Stafford, in the counties of Stafford and Salop, and on the estate of Sutherland'. A book that came to try and justify the changes and developments being made at the time and one that became a handbook for other 'improvers' both in the UK and almost in the new and emerging continent in the USA.
A copy of the book can still be obtained from various sellers and is also available free, to download, on google play books.


Copyright Edwardx
James Loch died in London in 1855, leaving the management of the Sutherland estates to his son George Loch (1811-1877). He is buried in Brompton Cemetery, Earls Court, London. The Hearse was followed by thirty gentlemen, including the second Duke of Sutherland. And yet whilst he was was buried, the legacy that he so religiously supported continued with evictions taking place on that day in Kildonan and Tongue.


The thanks from the Duchess and the now second Duke, to the man who effected their plans, was so great that a monument was erected to Loch, on the estate in 1858 with the following inscription.


Copyright: Peter Moore
To the honoured memory of
James Loch
who loved in the serene 
evening of his life
to look around him here.


May his children's children gather here 
and think of him
whose life was spent in virtuous labour
for the land he loved
for the friends he served
Copyright: Ordnance Survey
who have raised these stones




The photograph of the monument was taken in 2010 and is hidden from view by overgrown and mature woodland. 


The location is within Dunrobin wood  on the outside of Golspie at NC874017. The position is indicated on the map in yellow. The site is well worth a visit and there are plenty of other sites to visit as this is right in the heart of the clearance movement.

So often, the changes within Scotland took place at a discreet distance from London and those often supporting the changes, that often they were carried out in isolation. But times were changing, and national records were beginning to be developed. An overview and statistical record of agriculture and practises on the land were being carried out across all counties of Great Britain and one was concluded in 1822 for the county of Sutherland, charting land ownership, use and developments. htttp://www.countysutherland.co.uk/102.html

A range of letters, documents and information regarding Loch and the Sutherland estate can be viewed by visiting the Sutherland Collection, held in trust by Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Council. This can be accessed here

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